Boris Mann

Open Source. Community. Decentralized Web. Building dev tools at Fission. Cooks & eats.


Online identity pollution is happening today

Much as Loïc Le Meur warned, identity theft is already happening:

This blog posting is actually a Web page that I have created to help my good friend Aina Gerner-Mathisen dig out from a major identity-theft problem she recently experienced. It seems that some evil comment-spammer has posted spam comments onto a number of weblogs in her name. Now these comments appear higher in Google search results than legitimate pages about/by Aina.

Read on for more on comment spam, and a link to help Aina.

I don't think much of his other post where he talks about a comment spam solution that "Google should provide". He's right that it is the content providers (i.e. bloggers, online forum providers, software tool makers, etc. etc.) that should try to stop this comment spam. But the natural conclusion doesn't have to be requiring authentication.

For instance, I have seen very little automated spam on Drupal sites. I have had 3 postings in 2 years that I consider spam -- and those were hand-entered. Every person I know (me included) that has had MT installed somewhere has had comment spam.

Nova also wants help for non-technical people:

Aina is actually a leading writer and journalist in Norway -- yet due to the comment spam problem if you search her name on Google you get links that do not accurately represent her views. This is a real problem for her -- and she is not technical enough to solve it herself. Her professional reputation, and personal reputation, could be harmed by this. So for people like Aina, there is a need for a system to "dig out" from under comment spam in their name.

Unfortunately, I don't think this is attainable. The web, like in any other medium, has many different people in it. There are very few (none?) other "Boris Mann" people out there. And with Aina's unique name, there are likely few others of her as well. If you want to promote yourself in a medium, you need to have your own views available in that medium. Aina needs to establish at least a small web presence, and ask other people to link to it. What Nova has done (see below) is a start.

What Aina can perhaps do is maintain an online profile. The social networking sites (if they were open to Google) would be good for this, having a very low barrier to entry. The second hit for my name on Google after this website is my Zerendipity profile.*

Nova: some feedback. If you really want that page to come up in search results, make the title (and the URL) contain Aina's name. Also, suggest to other people that they link to the page with "Aina Gerner-Mathisen" as the link text, like so:

Page about Aina Gerner-Mathisen.

Hope that helps. If you want an invite to Zerendipity, I would be happy to provide that as well.

*Disclaimer: I'm doing some work with Zerendipity right now, so I might be a little biased. Still, it is the only site that I know of that provides a custom URL for your profile that can be linked to directly.